Antonio Esfandiari Highlights 2019 Poker Hall of Fame Finalists
The finalist list for the 2019 class of the Poker Hall of Fame has been announced. The WSOP released the list of finalists on Sunday and the list drew a bit of criticism from players and fans alike.
One thing that didn’t draw criticism was the inclusion of Antonio Esfandiari to the list. However, the inclusion of Chris Ferguson did not sit well with many. Also, famed industry leader Matt Savage was a notable snub from the list.
Also, the process of this year’s selection process was a bit different, making one wonder whether the final pair has already been decided and the rest of this is a formality.
Esfandiari Highlights List of Finalists
The Poker Hall of Fame finalists list was released on Sunday and the majority of the list are repeat finalists. Only one new player was added in Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari. Let’s take a quick look at the list of finalists:
Chris Bjorin – Bjorin is a well-known Swedish pro with two WSOP bracelet wins and $5.7 million in career earnings. He has been on the finalist list multiple times, and it’s likely this is as far as he gets this year as well.
David Chiu – Chiu is a five-time WSOP bracelet winner and a well-known figure in the poker world. He is best known for winning the 2008 WPT World Championship. Well respected by his peers, some feel it’s past time he should be in the Hall of Fame.
Eli Elezra – Elezra is a well-known and popular pro out of Israel and won his fourth WSOP bracelet this summer. He’s been a high stakes cash pro as well as a dominant tournament pro. His inclusion would go a long way to beefing up the international wing of the Hall of Fame.
Antonio Esfandiari – The Magician is a well-known presence in the poker community. One of the more popular players in the circuit, he is best known for winning the inaugural Big One for One Drop. He’s also part of the broadcast team for ESPN World Series of Poker Main Event final table broadcasts.
The Poker Hall of Fame nominees include @themouthmatusow, @CMONEYMAKER, Ted Forrest, and @MagicAntonio, who is new to the ballot. I look forward to once again casting a vote this year. Full details on all 10 nominees here -> https://t.co/aqiQMK2R1C pic.twitter.com/nfQs4vrxiS
— Chad Holloway (@ChadAHolloway) June 25, 2019
Chris Ferguson – A six-time WSOP bracelet winner and the winner of the 2000 World Series of Poker, Ferguson has 129 career WSOP cashes. Prior to the collapse of Full Tilt Poker, “Jesus” was one of the more popular players in poker.
Ted Forrest – Forrest has six WSOP bracelet victories and has been both a dominant cash game and tournament player. While respected by his peers, it’s unlikely he will leapfrog over others on this list.
Mike Matusow – Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has won four WSOP bracelets and is one of the most outspoken players in poker. While successful, lack of consistency will likely keep him out of the Poker Hall of Fame.
Chris Moneymaker – The winner of the 2003 WSOP Main Event, his win sparked the Poker Boom. While his resume doesn’t warrant inclusion on his prowess at the table, his contribution to the game could be enough to get him inducted.
— CardsChat (@CardsChat) June 26, 2019
David Oppenheim – Oppenheim is best known as being one of the most dominant cash game players in the game. His inclusion is more out of respect from fellow pros than popularity amongst poker fans. If he gets included, it will be because the members of the Hall of Fame push him through.
Huck Seed – Seed has won four WSOP braceelts, including the 1996 WSOP Main Event. He is considered by many pros to be one of the best players of all-time and will probably get in at some point.
Ferguson’s Inclusion Draws Wrath of Poker Community
The most controversial inclusion on the list of finalists is Chris Ferguson. Many feel that Ferguson should have received a lifetime ban from poker due to his involvement with Full Tilt Poker. Instead, he has been allowed to play and is now once again on the finalist list.
Chris Ferguson?? Really, after Full Tilt, that fucker shouldn’t be anywhere near the Hall of Fame
— OreoSlim (@OreoSlim1) June 25, 2019
His inclusion is likely one placed either by other members of the Hall of Fame or by the WSOP directly as fan voting was not held this year. This is very curious and makes one wonder if the WSOP is trying to guide their selection process because this is the 50th World Series of Poker.
The most notable snub from the list of finalists is Matt Savage. Savage currently works for the World Poker Tour, and one has to wonder if his snub is because he works for the competition.
Esfandiari and Moneymaker Likely To Be Inducted
With the lack of a transparent process this year, one has to wonder if the WSOP is trying to guide the process to get the people they want to be inducted. Antonio Esfandiari would be a popular pick due to his TV exposure and popularity amongst poker fans.
The other high profile induction would be Chris Moneymaker. Since Moneymaker is the man behind the Poker Boom, inducting him during the 50th World Series of Poker would be a fitting tribute and a great way to promote the brand.
As such, we predict Chris Moneymaker and Antonio Esfandiari to be inducted into the 2019 Class of the Poker Hall of Fame.